Amazon re:MARS 2022 - The art of the possible: Video collaboration in deep space (SPC201-L)
My name is Jono Luk. I'm a Vice President of Product Management with WebEx by Cisco. There're some other words on there that you don't have to worry about. The other thing that's really interesting for me, I'm the Executive Sponsor within Cisco for work on what we call the Callisto Technology Demonstration. That's taking stuff that we all build together and putting that into space.
And I'll touch more on that in a couple minutes here. But before we get to the what are we doing today? I want to take all of us back, however old we all are. Think about the dreams you had as children.
Think about the things that inspired you. What did it mean? What was impossible at that point in time, and then fast forward to today? How much of that impossible is now in your pocket? In your car? On your desktop? Just take a second and think about your first big dream. Not going to make anyone tell anybody else their first dream, but I’m going to tell you about mine. So this all started when I was a child, Saturday nights, I would sit with my dad, and I would watch Star Trek, The Next Generation, Saturdays at 7pm.
On Fox 13. I can remember the commercials. Captain Picard, Commander Riker, every week, they would beam down to these new planets, talk to alien races, which I was pretty sure at the time couldn't speak English. But somehow magically, they did. Right? They would talk back to headquarters; it was a two-month journey home.
But when they talked, those lips moved at the same speed as if I was sitting across the table. Those were dreams for me. I was like, “That's amazing. How did they do that?” And luckily, aliens look a lot different, I think in real life, as they did in Star Trek.
So, we'll leave that one alone. But I want to focus really on those innovations. What are those things that we've done in the last 100, 200 years that has shaped the world? I'm going to tell you about three, because I believe they're foundational to everything else from here until forever. The first is human flight. 150 years ago, humans would sit on their front balcony, look at birds and wonder if we'd ever be able to be in the sky. And that one fateful, I think December afternoon, in 1903, the Wright brothers did it.
Yes, they flew for 12 seconds. And they got I think up to 53 seconds by the end of the day. But in one day, the impossible became possible. Next, the internet, right? I'm sure most of us here today use the internet for our jobs.
Think back to a time when that just didn't exist. People used to write letters by hand, okay, by hand, not even cursive like printing, they would roll the piece of paper up, attach it to the leg of a carrier pigeon and hope that their message got there. Or they put it in an envelope and give it to the mailman on horseback, and then hope that it got there in a day, a month, maybe a year. With the internet, information just goes faster. Data is now sent nearly instantaneously, opening up an entirely new way of doing work, making decisions, doing research. And then, at third is the mobile phone.
And before the mobile phone, all those other phones, right? The rotary, the punch pad. But think about how this has changed the game. Alexander Graham Bell, in 1875, figured out how to turn electricity turn electrons into sound. And ever since then, we've had a completely new way of working with one another, talking to family. And then the cell phone. Well, I can do anything from my phone.
In fact, I did. I hired a cat sitter this morning. I'm going to order Uber Eats tonight, and I can pay my taxes online. Think of how far we've come in 50 years, right? I don't know when the IRS was invented.
But I'm pretty sure it was really hard to do your taxes back in the day. Here's just three of those innovations that we might take for granted, but were once impossible. And on that note, not only have we been innovating, we are innovating faster than ever. The blue line on here is just a couple of these technologies that have come up along the way. The telephone we just talked about, right? Television, the personal computer, how many folks here used to press the turbo button to get it to go from 16 to 25 megahertz or 25 to 33. We’re talking about Pentium four chips.
And look at where we are now, we are quantum computing. If you were at the keynote the other day, you saw just, again, how far we've come. The curve is accelerating. I argue that the web is the inflection point that we will never see the same curve again past. This blue line enabled a new entire industry. How do we compress video? I can hear your voice.
How do I see you? Right now we could send data bits over these wires, once upon a time dial up, right? All the way to cable and all the other things ever since over the air. How do we send more? How do I send better video over that same limited bandwidth? That's the purple line. We’ve innovated on video compression.
And then finally, because we have the web, right, because we can compress video, now we can use video as a communication medium. I work on WebEx. WebEx is first and foremost a video communication and collaboration platform.
And so that's unleashed a whole new way of work. That new way of work, we call collaboration. It's one thing for me to see you, it's another thing for you to see me. But if we can make discoveries, if we can discuss, if we can decide things together, that's where this medium, this video thing becomes interesting.
I would argue that video has become the quintessential medium by which work is done. The last two years really propelled it into another level of our atmosphere and how critical it is. And what's happening is people from anywhere in the world can connect to anyone else from anywhere in the world. That could be your mother, that could be your business partner, right? It could be anyone, and you can have that conversation, you can make decisions. And it's a personal passion point to mine. So, I'm going to take 20 seconds.
Access to that technology is not equitable. There is a billion, sorry, plus people out there every day that do not have access to what we all might think is normal, I get really upset if I run my speed test, and I don't get my megabit a second up and my 100 meg down, or when I see Google Gogo in flight, you're not hitting those speed tests. There are children, there's teachers, there's parents in the world today that don't even have dial up. And so, as we look forward and lean forward and think about innovation, let's remember to pull everyone together on that journey, right? Promise, I'm only going to hit that theme one more time at the very end. But it's a passion point, I wanted to have a stage. So here I am.
Now let's talk about that video collaboration and communication and how it's really changed that work from anywhere paradigm. Prior to COVID, you might work from home because I have a contractor coming, right? I need to be home on a Friday afternoon for some appointment. That was this desk at home with a monitor and a webcam. Then we've kind of started to see this, “I have to drop my daughter off at a class, right, I have to pick my son up from hockey, whatever that might be.”
So now it was work on the go. The beauty in some respects of this technology is it doesn't care, it doesn't discriminate what you're using it for. And during COVID, I personally was extremely proud of the work we did to enable telehealth, virtual healthcare, right the same video technology we use every day, and I think we're broadcasting right now with, to help deliver care to patients that couldn't come to the hospital. I talked to chief medical officers of some of the New York Health Care Institutions, and they said, “I don't want patients coming in. I don't have enough PPE, I don't want them getting exposed.”
That same video communication and collaboration has changed health care forever. Okay, but that's seeing, “I can see my patient, my patient can see me, they can hear me, I can hear them.” If you remember or if you look back and watch those ‘80s movies that have CGI you go, “That doesn't look real. I'm not buying it. I'm not watching this again.”
The same is true of this medium. And that's where artificial intelligence, AI now, factors in. How do we make this feel real? Or how can it be better than in person? That's one of the missions that my team and others have had? How do we make it so a million miles might feel like one or zero? Couple examples of AI as it applies in our world today, and this is actually a springboard for the rest of the conversation and deep space exploration, I promise we're getting there. Facial recognition. Dean and I had a bunch of meetings on Tuesday, we walked into a room.
I looked around the room and I knew one face. He was standing beside me, it was Dean. It took us time to say “Hi, I'm John. Hi, I'm Tom. Hi, I'm Bob. Hey, I'm so and so.” What if with this technology, I could tell you right away who they were, what their concerns were, what they want out of this conversation, right, history about them.
That all starts with knowing, facial recognition, computer vision. Next, how do I focus in on the right person? So right now I'm in a room, there's a lot of you here, if I just had a camera up top, you're all the size of M&Ms, there's no way I would be able to know who was talking and really focus on your facial expressions. I am overly facially expressive.
I don't know if you can see I talk with my eyes. I talk with my hands, right? But there's a lot of that communication that gets lost if I can't see the person. And so, applying that AI that computer vision so I can focus in on the person that’s speaking at that time is so critical, critical to that communication, that the signal sent is being received. Audio intelligence.
So there're a couple flavors this takes, my favorite is noise cancellation. So, I honestly can't remember the number, my CMO is going to hate me for this. But with the pandemic people went home, you would be surprised how many millions of minutes of meetings and conversations there were with cats, screaming, lawnmower, kids, hairdryers. Well, applying AI to the real work world which was at home, right, it was your dining table, it was your fill in the blank space, we can remove that noise, right? We can create an experience for you, such that no matter where you are, space, we'll talk about that in a moment, right? How being up in space can feel just like you're sitting right here at the front row talking to me. Those are the kinds of things where we just take these for granted right now.
But think how far we've come. The next two, Transcription/Translation, I always pair these together. This is about ensuring the signal I send is being received by you.
Guess what? And I'm sorry, the truth is, the majority of commerce is not just done in English, right? Smart people are around the world. How do we ensure that if I am speaking to you in German, French, Italian, pick your language, if you speak another language, you understand what I'm saying? That is the on-the-fly translation that is so critical, whether that be a sales call, school, virtual learning, right? What if you're attending an Italian University, or you have a guest lecture? Transcriptions paired with that? Yes, sure. Closed captioning on Netflix is technically transcription. But imagine that applied to the world of manufacturing. Supply chain, there's machines humming and hawing and sighing and sparks are flying. You may have been speaking my language, but I didn't actually catch what you said, show me what you said.
That application of AI in this case draws a new level of understanding. And again, gesture recognition. I've been doing this for 10, 12 minutes. Now, how do we make it as real when you're somewhere else instead of right here? These are the types of things that AI can help us drive.
Now we're going to turn the corner, I talked about things that you go, “Okay, I use that every day. What does it have to do with space?” I'll tell you what it has to do with space. It's called the Callisto Technology Demonstration. As you walked into the second floor, you saw a giant what looked like a capsule, space capsule. In there, if you got a chance, if you haven't, you can go sit down. There's this blue thing.
That is Callisto. It is the result of a partnership between Lockheed Martin, Amazon Alexa and WebEx by Cisco. This is the first time we are taking commercial technology. Commercial, meaning the thing that's in my pocket right now, or if you have an iPad, if you're holding it in your hand, and applying that to deep space exploration. For 100 years military and space exploration, that science, made life better down here. Now we're seeing we have billions of people that have come up with ideas here.
Let's make it better up there. I’m going to give you a quick tour of what this is. Let's talk that through. So the first components you have is Alexa, most folks know what Alexa is, I'm not going to go into that. But think about this in the context of space exploration. You're in the capsule, there's 2, 3, 4 of you, you don't have a lot of time to figure something out and look through a matrix of hundreds of data points.
What if you could simply say, “Alexa, what is the temperature of component x? Or Alexa, what is the rotational velocity of the solar array right now?” Because you need to know, is it on or off? Alexa provides that immediate access to data. Because faster access to data means faster decisions, potentially corrective action, right? It is critical time, literally can be money, or lives. WebEx. WebEx again, first and foremost, a video platform that allows you to connect, communicate and work with others. Take that into space. So what? First of all, it'd be super cool if like Star Trek style, there was a big screen at the front of the ship someday, and that was WebEx.
But let's put that aside. The reality of space exploration, space is cold, space is lonely, you're going to be in a capsule with maybe three other humans, if you're on the space station, maybe five others, you need to connect, we are social beings. And so, what this is doing is allowing you to call home, talk to your families, right? Talk to your doctor's or any of the above, maybe your favorite teams playing, I'm willing to bet that if you're going to give them a call from space, they probably show up at the right place and talk to you for a little bit, right? Continue to foster that human connection. But there's more, think of what science exploration and experimentation.
Did you know, in the first 20 years of the ISS, International Space Station, they ran 3,000 science experiments. I don't work for NASA. I know nothing about that, logistically speaking, I am willing to bet they could not fly 3,000 scientists up to space. And also think about the time it took to gather information, send it down to earth, have the scientists look at it, send it back, a day or two days, your windows are limited.
With the video, I can see this plant, I can see the effect of zero gravity on this physics experiment. I can redirect the scientist on Earth can say, “Do this, change that.” So there's a new way of instructing and sharing. And then there's the Inspire the Next Generation, show what it looks like, connect those people back to Earth. That's really what it comes down to. And the last thing I really want to call out is, this is space.
If this thing is in space, it will go to the moon, that's 240,000 miles away. The furthest point on Earth is probably about 26,000 miles. If you took the most inefficient way to get back to yourself, the order of magnitude of problems is different. Your latency, your reliability, cosmic rays, like who here thinks about cosmic rays when HBO Max just glitched? Probably none of us, right? These are variables you do not have in everyday life that suddenly become realities as we think about deep space exploration. That was space.
Let's talk about Houston. What you're seeing right now is the actual what we call Callisto Operations Room. This is a room in what most people think of as Mission Control in Houston, the actual room with all the stations that say, “Go for launch, go for launch, 500 feet to the left. ” Okay, so you're literally looking the same direction.
The person on the left is Brian Jones. He is the chief engineer from Lockheed Martin. The intent of this room is to connect humans with Earth to space. That gray thing, that gray screen in front of the gentleman in the blue, that's what we call our Deskpro.
It's a video unit. As you sit there, the cameras going to capture you and beam that up into the payload. Artemis one, which is the first of many missions for Orion, the project Orion is unmanned, we're testing it. That's why it's called the tech demo, technology demonstration. It’s to show how we can do this.
But think about that, families can come in, or we can put these units elsewhere, you can dial from any of the secure networks. It's the NASA Deep Space Network. But we've created a new way to connect, communicate, make decisions and inform.
Calling your attention to this thing on the side. If it looks like a whiteboard or Blackboard, it's because it is, except it's a WebEx board. I'm not here to sell you anything, it's not going to fit in your luggage, don't worry. But the point is, this is where scientists can draw, illustrate, animate, explain to the payload specialist what this is. But that's something that we actually use day in day out in a lot of corporate and educational and healthcare settings.
Now applying that again, to people that are going to be 250,000 miles away. But this is going to be much more detailed than your IKEA instructions, people can point, click do all those things. How many folks here actually know, to that point, where the square peg, round hole saying came from? Does anybody know this? It's like the first time in a room and no one knows. This came from Apollo 13. So during the Apollo 13 mission, which everyone knows, it wasn't, I mean, Tom Hanks, and everyone's there. But the real mission, what happened was they had to switch modules.
And because the module was different, a particular air scrubbing unit was a different shape, square peg, round hole. All they had was audio to communicate between those people up there and literally hundreds of scientists and engineers down here to solve that problem. Imagine how much faster how much better, luckily, I mean, knock on wood, right? Everything ended up in a reasonable place, how much quicker they could have solved that, blood pressures would be lower, and we’d be back to bring them home. With that video, the ability for them to draw circles, draw arrows, do this do that, the mailbox, that was the solution they created, they called it the mailbox, we could in that and half the time, right? Because they can see, I can understand, that's the power of what this video is really bringing. All right. Now I'm going to spend the rest of this time talking to you about where we can all go together.
Before I do that, I'm going to show you a video that bridges the gap of where we are right now and where we need to be for true deep space exploration. There's no replacement for in person interaction. But we can feel like we're together, interacting with the same objects while being thousands of miles apart.
Introducing WebEx Hologram, the industry's first real time holographic collaboration solution. This is a holographic meeting. It's a shared intuitive interaction, allowing remote participants to experience the same immersive event.
It's a transformative technology for designers, engineers, technicians, innovators, and more. This isn't some faraway vision for the future. It's available to a limited set of customers right now. The expectation of hybrid work has been elevated. [music playing] All right. So that limited set of customers, they’re customers on earth, right? We all know this.
But the thing I wanted to really lean in on here is, you saw probably in the middle of that video, there was a panel of about 10, 15, 20 cameras. That's how this works today, right? We have customers that are using these so engineers somewhere else can interact with, right, understand that it takes that array of cameras. It's about the size of what my arm is right now. That will not work for space.
The innovation we need, again coming back to that curve, the innovation we need is to flip it around. I need that camera to be the size of this, so that the astronaut can hold this over on the face of the moon, it will create that three-dimensional model and beam that back to Earth. The scientists on Earth can go, “That's interesting. Collect this, flip this do that.” That's where we have something now it's not quite right, let's do it together, let's put that into the hands of space exploration.
That's when we're going to take these light years steps ahead. We talked earlier about communication in space, I throw out numbers like 240,000 miles, but five- or six-seconds rate of latency, if you will, which is a lot higher than what we expect when I talk to someone in London or Dubai, or any of these countries, Australia. Well, Mars is 125 million miles away. Math isn't my strong suit. So, I cheated. I did this before, that's 15 minutes, it takes you 15 minutes to send a signal from Houston to Mars at the speed of light. No one is pulling a fiber optic cable 125 Miles, 125 million miles to make that work.
So how are we going to solve this? Well, we're going to have to solve this together, we're going to have to figure out how to get that signal to go. Reduce that latency, increase that reliability, someone invent subspace, right? Someone design the next thing, we don't know how yet, but we can do this together. Because we've seen it done before, and we know we can. We talked about language, translation and transcription. Now apply that to space again, right? If the engineer here on earth speaks German, think of the International Space Station that was built by 15 plus countries, and that many more languages spoken.
How do we make it so the expert speaks in their language of comfort, and it shows up for the astronaut or the payload specialist in theirs? Don't forget, there's a very specific jargon that is used in space exploration or engineering or any of these, how do we account for all those? How do we learn on the go? How do we make it better? That translation, which may feel like a business kind of a thing right now is going to revolutionize how quickly we can solve these problems. And again, transcription. It's kind of noisy in space. I know that sounds weird. The vacuum of space has no noise I know. But the space station, the module that they live in, there is machinery.
I can't always hear the thing that you said. So that same promise of transcription applied to space, show me what the instruction was, draw the thing so I can see it, and then transcribe for me, show me that closed captions. So, I understand what you said. Again, application of technology we have today, just take it a little bit further, will revolutionize this entire thing. Facial recognition, I talked about the example of Dean and I walking into a room, I knew none of the people, that's AWS, it's a re:MARS problem, right? False, it's not.
Think about exploration where 45 scientists are trying to understand something together. That room is huge. There's a lot of people in there, how can we, again, create that familiarity? There're four astronauts sitting inside their Orion capsule, there's going to be dozens all day long people down here, foster that sense of connection. It's hard, they're going to be lonely, they're going to… It's overwhelming. They're smart people, it's still overwhelming, create that connection. In fact, take it one step further, generalize facial recognition to general computer vision, apply that to the hologram thing I just talked about.
And then tell me when this rock is not unique. I've seen it before. That thing is frozen water, this thing on Mars is something I want to send back. That same tech expanded can derive a completely new efficiency for that astronaut, but the person on the face of the moon can get information now.
And if they need help, they dial home, right? They send that 3D hologram so the scientists can understand. And again, I always come back to noise cancellation. The things up there are loud parts move. How can we apply that same AI to remove barking dogs, lawn mowers? Choose your pick, right? Hair dryers to space? So that hum that's always in the background, pull it out, right, all those different things, remove those, improve the fidelity of that communication. That's the promise of AI that we have today, when applying that deep space exploration. All right.
That was kind of it. A couple closing thoughts for you I want to leave you with. First of all, pipe dreams do become realities. Nobody thought we would have a double decker with wings in the air, let alone with a bar upstairs and really comfy couches, the A380 was a pipe dream and now it's real.
I think it's discontinued but you get my point. Second, the art of possible empowers us to dream of tomorrow solutions. Look at where we are today relative to then and dream big. Lean in into those ideas, come together. And yes, together we can bring the best of the technology we have here today.
Apply that up there. And I promised you I'd come back to this part. Please, as we do this, think about every corner of the world. Every child, every parent, every grandchild, every—you get the list. How can we not only solve the problems here in places with high bandwidth, there which is space exploration, but every corner of Earth? I will give you one example I'll leave you with, we're going to have to solve a new way of sending this information, right? I'd say this, how do we reduce that latency? How do we improve that bandwidth? Why can't we turn those satellites and bring them right back here onto Earth? So that child in South Africa or somewhere in rural Indiana, or whatever corner you want, can get access to education, get access to healthcare? These are real problems that we can solve.
We look up there and point everything back down here. All right folks, thank you so much for your time. I hope you enjoy the rest of the conference.
It was great to chat. Cheers. [applause]